Murder Probe In Woods

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THE DISCOVERY of a woman’s body in woodland near Somercotes on Sunday afternoon has sparked a murder investigation.

Jia Ashton’s body was found by Derby Mountain Rescue volunteers and a search dog in Sleetmoor Woods at 4.30pm on Sunday after she went missing.

A 26-year-old man who was arrested on Sunday evening has appeared before magistrates in Derby on Tuesday where police successfully applied for an extension of 30 hours to his detention. He remains in custody and will be further questioned by detectives.

Mrs Ashton (24), of Springfield Crescent, Somercotes, had been reported missing on Friday evening by her husband. A post mortem examination carried out on Monday night revealed that Mrs Ashton died as a result of an assault. There is no evidence that a weapon was used and there was no apparent sexual assault.

A team of 50 police officers and forensic experts is working on the enquiry from an incident room in Ripley.

The search of the 13.5 hectare woodland where Mrs Ashton was found is continuing and police are likely to be in the area for several more days.

Detective Superintendent Terry Branson, who is leading the investigation, said: “The main focus of our investigation at the moment is around what happened to Mrs Ashton after she left work on Thursday.

“We know she left work at Thornton’s just after 5pm but we have no positive sightings of her after that time.

“It is really important that we trace her movements so we can piece together what happened to her and how she met such a tragic end.”

Mrs Ashton was last seen leaving her place of work, Thorntons in Swanwick, at around 5pm.

She was wearing a dark grey hooded top, a three-quarter length coat, black trousers and black shoes and was carrying a fabric satchel.

Mrs Ashton’s Springfield Crescent home was cordoned off by Derbyshire police this week.